Virginia Mayfield

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Virginia Mayfield

Virginia Henry Mayfield (born November 14, 1889 in Birmingham; died February 4, 1944 in Washington D.C.) was an educator, attorney, judge, state land agent, and federal official. She is recognized as the first female Circuit Court Judge in Alabama.

Mayfield was one of nine children born to Manoah, and the fourth of five born to his first wife, Mary Helen Baker Henry, who died in 1891. She grew up in Birmingham and attended public schools. She began working as a teacher in Decatur, Morgan County and later returned to Birmingham, where she taught for five years at the Baker School and another at Martin School. In the summers, she continued her own education at the University of Chicago and at the State College of Cedar Falls, Iowa.

On August 26, 1914 Henry married Cephus Mayfield, then an assistant traffic manager for the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Company. They resided in a a two-story Craftsman style house at 3221 Cliff Road in Birmingham's Highland Park neighborhood. The couple was childless, and Cephus died in 1933.

Mayfield and another woman, Floella Bonner, were the first women to be awarded bachelor of law degrees at Birmingham-Southern College in June 1923. She was admitted to the Alabama State Bar and took a job with her father's legal staff of the Jefferson County Treasurer's Office. In September of that year, with the support of the Women's Democratic Club, Governor William Brandon appointed her judge of the Jefferson County Circuit's first Court of Domestic Relations.

In 1927 Mayfield ran for a Circuit Court seat, but was defeated by incumbent Roger Snyder. Afterward she began working as an assistant to the State Land Agent in Jefferson County. She then took a job with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. She was transferred to the department's Birmingham office. When it closed, she returned to Washington as a staff attorney for the Federal Communications Commission, and then for the U.S. Veterans Administration.

Mayfield was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1935. In the late 1930s she joined the Southern Conference for Human Welfare. She was also a member of Highlands Methodist Church, and a worthy matron of Myrtle Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star.

Mayfield was fell ill and died at a hospital in Washington D.C. in 1944. She is buried with her husband under a large Art Deco monument at Elmwood Cemetery.


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